Since yesterday we've been away to attend PP's nephew's funeral. His family live deep in the Cambridgeshire countryside, in the midst of flat, featureless fens. It's an area of the country I've never visited before and I was astounded at how foreign it felt, in comparison to the gently rolling green hills and woodlands of East Sussex.
I'm sure that on a warm, bright, summer's day, the fens feel very different, but in the bitterly cold and bleak, dying days of January, they presented a rather desolate vista. With few trees and hedgerows, there is little to deflect the force of gales blowing in from the North Sea. The occasional hardy trees which dot the landscape bear the brunt of the winds and seem to be vainly struggling to cling on to the rich, peaty soil, which is a startling, universal black.
This landscape seemed to reflect the universal sadness felt by everyone who attended the service yesterday. By their very nature, funerals are always immensely sad occasions, but I have rarely experienced such an emotional and deeply moving ceremony, perfectly judged, simple and heartfelt.
A fitting valediction for a kind and gentle man who was so obviously loved and held in high regard not only by his family, but by his friends, neighbours and work colleagues, so many of whom packed into the crematorium to celebrate a life well lived, and say a final goodbye........